Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Comfort of Video Games

No silly stories or mocking bad articles today. I'd like to link to Kotaku's latest piece by Patrick Klepek and talk about how video games can help victims. And I use that word to cover pretty much every and all forms of abuse. Whether you have survived a shark attack, a mugging, mental attacks, or anything else, there's something to be said about video games. They are more then just coping mechanisms. Video games help victims confront their past and steadily work to overcome the pain. Not by reliving the moment of the abuse, but through in-depth story-telling and thoughtful character development. It's a slow process, just like any method of therapy. But it offers people an opportunity to feel whole again in a way that conventional methods have yet grasped.

For all that the media focuses on with video game violence, it's good to see stories about hope come from our neck of the woods.

The problem that I've run into with my posting is finding related articles. I know they exist. I have seen hundreds of personal stories on forums, and have talked to people at conventions as they relate why video games mean so much to them. Sadly, these stories are not deemed worthy of newspapers and local media stations. But if you've ever joined a gaming forum, you have seen one of these tales. And most of them are likely to be true. There's no fame by lying. There is not pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There is comfort and closure by letting your past come to light - so that is a gain. It doesn't make them famous. It makes them human.

It took me a while to admit it and seek help, but I do suffer from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. It stems from mental anguish that I received in middle school and high school. I was ostracized, humiliated, and degraded by other kids and teachers and staff members as well. I still don't feel comfortable getting into the details, but it completely changed me as a person. And it didn't get any better in college. I had a full on mental break down after I graduated with my Bachelor's degree. The person that I had turned into wasn't me. It wasn't who I wanted to be.

My doctor prescribed video games to me. No really. She did. I'm still working on getting her to write it down so I can shellac and frame it and show off that I have an awesome physician. She understood that the environment I was in wouldn't allow me to speak up. When I did, I was further shamed by people around me (Parents excluded. They were the only ones to listen to me for the longest time). And her response was to play more video games. It was an outlet to allow me to channel my fears, anger, and depression into an activity that wouldn't bring harm on myself or others. Through video games I learned about the power of creativity. It allowed me to confront my past and develop into the person I always wanted to be.

There are still moments where I can't play a game or go online without concern that something will trigger a memory. It happened to me just a week ago, when people made fun of me for something I didn't know about. I'm still new to the game. Everyone is new at some point, right? But it was enough for them to degrade my skills and I'm incredibly thankful that my internet connection opted to die on me at that moment, else I would have left under my own accord.

And how did video games help? By giving me unique stories to get lost in. By providing characters with their own mental, physical, and moral dilemmas that pushed them to still move on and save the world. By providing me with a community of like-minded people who, mostly, don't shun me for being me. Mostly. There will always be trolls and asshats, but they make up a minute portion. I didn't have to feel afraid in a video game. I could control my character's destiny. And through games I learned what it takes to have a fulfilling life. That it's not about what everyone else expects of me, but what I want.

It doesn't seem like an Earth-shattering revelation, but for many it can be a life altering experience.

If you have a story to share, or a link to others, please post them in the comments. I'd love to be able to get more of these moments out on the web and let the world see just how important video games are. Not because we're fans, but because they help.


  1. Fantastic post. Thanks for writing it and the sharing such a personal story.


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